Those tiny immobile pests that appear like small bumps on your plants are scale insects. They feed by sucking sap from plants, causing them to wilt and appear sickly. The leaves may even turn yellow and drop off.
Scale insects are of the order Hemiptera . Depending on the infestation, they can cause great damage in the garden, greenhouse, and especially to houseplants. As a result, you must get rid of them.
Scale bugs are identified as tiny shell-like bumps in clusters along the stems of plants. They excrete a sticky honeydew substance. This often leads to fungal infection and sooty mold on plants, indicating the presence of these unwanted creatures.
Here’s how to get rid of scales on plants naturally. These are some of the most effective home remedies and organic control methods.
1. Rub Them Off
This is the most immediate and inexpensive way to control the critters if the problem is still small and is particularly useful for houseplant scales.
An old toothbrush is a good tool to scrape/rub the bugs off the stems. Alternatively, a slightly abrasive sponge or cotton swab dabbed in some rubbing alcohol should do the trick.
Check under leaves too where they may be hiding. Additionally, use an organic insecticidal spray to avoid re-infestation.
2. Horticultural Oil
Also known as summer oil or dormant oil, you can purchase horticultural oil at the garden store or online. Spray all infected pants with a solution of this oil as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
The oil smothers the creatures and may need repeat applications to entirely eliminate an infestation. However, test a small area first as some plants may react more sensitively than others.
Choose a dry day with low humidity and without wind and entirely coat the infected plants.
Alternatively, a DIY horticultural oil solution might be less expensive. Make a homemade scale spray by combining one tablespoon of organic liquid soap in a cup of vegetable oil.
Next, take one tablespoon of this mixture and add it to a cup of water. Shake well and spray affected plants. Use the measurement as a guide for larger portions.
Pruning is a great tree scale treatment as a bad infestation may need drastic action. This home remedy stops the bugs at an early stage. It does so by preventing them from spreading to other areas or leaving honeydew attracting other pests.
Afterward, burn or remove pruned foliage and branches from the garden. Pruning may also strengthen plants and help resist further damage.
4. Beneficial Insects
This is one of the prime biological methods of controlling pest infestations. Insects like ladybugs and lacewings are predatory. They will consume large numbers of soft-bodied pests at the larval and adult stage including plant scales.
Purchase them at various garden centers and online. Furthermore, you can encourage some beneficial insects by planting flowers like marigolds and cosmos in the garden.
5. Neem Oil
Neem comes from the seeds of the neem tree. It is known for many years as an active natural pesticide. Purchase this natural treatment in pure oil form or as a base mixed with other active ingredients in organic commercial sprays.
To use neem oil to kill scale bugs, mix two tablespoons in a gallon of warm water. Next, add a little liquid soap (organic) to the mix, shake well, and spray onto infested plants.
Neem oil will inhibit the feeding and disrupt the growth of many pests including these ones. A thorough spray will also smother many pests on contact but others may take a while.
6. DIY Insecticidal Soap
This is another excellent home remedy to treat scales on plants naturally. You can purchase commercially available ones or make a homemade insecticidal soap spray to kill scales.
Dawn or any household liquid soap mixed with water and vegetable oil can do the trick; however, we prefer using organic liquid soaps.
To make this homemade scale spray, combine five tablespoons of liquid soap and two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a gallon of warm water. Shake well and spray affected plants.
7. Bug Blaster
This scale pest control method relies on a powerful jet of water to remove them. The apparatus consists of a ‘wand’ and nozzle. It is specially designed to blast away soft-bodied pests without harming your plants.
Bug Blaster is also economical with water and any excess on plants will be absorbed usefully. However, if the bugs return, repeat the process as clean plants are less susceptible to attack.
A substance extracted for neem seeds, Azadirachtin is widely used as an organic pesticide in gardening, farming, and forestry.
One of the best insecticides for scale insects, Azadirachtin controls many soft-bodied insect pests naturally. It works as an insect growth regulator, disrupting molting and development, ultimately destroying the pests.
However, the product is harmless to most beneficial bugs, pets, wildlife, and humans if used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
9. Essentria IC-3
Control many pests with this commercial product which contains a blend of essential oils and other ingredients. Essentria IC-3 is a multi-purpose natural insecticide with rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and geraniol.
Diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can use it for spraying or misting. You can also use it for drenching surfaces and paths to eliminate or prevent pest infestations.
Additionally, with caution, you can use it directly on cattle, horses, and chickens. Essentria IC-3 is effective against many different flying and crawling insect pests including white scale on plants.
10. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
This white powder is composed of the crushed skeletons of microscopic marine creatures.
Diatomaceous earth will kill scale pests because it is mildly abrasive. The sharpness of diatomaceous earth will cut into the pests, causing loss of fluids, dehydration, then death.
Moreover, DE is non-toxic (food-grade version) to humans, pets, and wildlife. Get it from the garden store or online. Dust it on plant surfaces and around the base of plants, shrubs, and trees as a preventative measure.
Scale damage on plants may be unsightly and they may affect houseplants, garden flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, or vegetable crops. Try the natural remedies above to eliminate them and keep your plants healthy and pest-free. Besides, some methods may be applied in combination for maximum effectiveness.